But there’s not.
What made for a thought-provoking and lyrical (and viral!) trailer resulted in a convoluted mess of a movie, with more prosthetic noses than a clown convention; and twice as many story lines as writer-director Tom Tykwer and the Wachowski siblings can handle, apparently.
It is definitely a film that attempts to say a lot, striving to be profound in each and every moment. And maybe that’s its fatal flaw. It never relaxes in to a user-friendly tempo, constantly shifting back and forth between characters, time periods, and even planets, all while using the gimmick of a handful of actors playing multiple roles. It’s exhausting, to be frank.
And, while one character may apologize for it up front through narration “While my extensive experience as an editor has led me to a disdain for flashbacks and flash forwards and all such tricksy gimmicks. I believe my dear reader that if you can extend your patience for just a moment, you will find that there is a method to this tale of madness,” it does not forgive the uneven performances or scattered through line. One story takes place “106 winters after the fall.” Alrighty then.
Tom Hanks and Halle Berry anchor the talented cast, which also includes the stellar Jim Broadbent, Matrix menace Hugo Weaving, Hitchcock’s James D’Arcy, the ubiquitous Keith David, Atlantic City vixen Susan Sarandon, and a surprisingly effective Hugh Grant, former U.K. rom-com king. Each actor plays several roles and the implication is that each incarnation represents a different phase of personal evolution. “All voices tied up into one.” Admirable concept, not very well executed.
Don’t get me wrong, though. There is a lot to like in Cloud Atlas. Some of the characters are very memorable (Weaving’s Devil on Hanks’ shoulder for one), and much of the writing is ambitiously poetic.
Normally, I enjoy a script that requires mental gymnastics. This one just misses its mark – by a hair. Multiple story lines is a structure that’s given us some great films (Magnolia, Grand Canyon, Babel, Amores Perros). Multiple narrators not such a good idea.
“Our lives are not our own. From womb to tomb we are bound to others. Past and present. And by each crime and every kindness we birth our future.”
Good stuff – buried in the mix.
It’s probably a better book.